It might seem like all play, but a preschool program also offers certain benefits to children that include helping to boost cognitive and motor development as well as enhancing social skills. A preschool education helps build a foundation of learning that will follow your child into her school years.
The preschool classroom gives your child lots of interaction with her peers. These daily interactions build her social skills as she learns to share, as well as negotiate with her classmates. Your child will learn how to listen to her peers. For example, during group sharing time, the preschoolers practice listening while the teacher or another student talks. Preschools often encourage the kids to work together to solve problems when they arise. Parents teach some of these skills at home, but being part of a group of peers gives your child a real-world chance to practice those skills.
The activities at preschool prepare your child for the routines and structure of kindergarten. She learns how to behave in a classroom setting so she doesn't disrupt the learning that takes place there. Preschools teach basic activities, such as walking in a line, working in a group and following directions from the teacher. A high-quality preschool program uses a regular schedule to get the kids in a familiar routine. This kind of structure is similar to what your child will see when she heads off to kindergarten.
The preschool curriculum incorporates age-appropriate learning tasks that prep your child for elementary school. Preschool programs often focus on literacy and math skills. The kids hear stories, create stories, learn about letters, practice rhyming and expand vocabulary at preschool. These introductory literacy skills build the foundation your tot needs to learn to read when she enters elementary school. Possible math activities include counting, number recognition, patterning and addition concepts. Many programs also incorporate science activities that encourage questioning and exploration of how things work. These skills set your child up to become a lifelong learner.
For some young kids, preschool is the first chance to spend time outside the home with someone other than a parent. Even if your child attends day care, preschool programs often focus more on getting the kids to do things on their own instead of the caregiver handling most tasks. Preschools typically set up independent activities in learning centers, which are areas in the classroom, each with a specific focus. The learning centers are designed to teach children to experiment with little guidance from the teacher. Learning centers help preschoolers develop decision-making skills. Early childhood teachers might allow the kids to choose from several different learning centers.